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Henry Wiencek Education. (2012) 'Master of the Mountain Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves.'

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Monticello 8, Louisiana 6, Kosciuszko 6, Mr. Jefferson 6, Washington 5, Europe 5, Afghanistan 4, Billy 4, Paris 3, France 3, Jefferson 3, Philadelphia 3, Mr. O'shaughnessy 2, John Barnes 2, Kevin 2, Us 2, Virginia 2, America 2, Thomas Paine 2, Charlottesville 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Henry Wiencek  Education.  (2012) 'Master of  
   the Mountain Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves.'  

    December 23, 2012
    6:30 - 7:44am EST  

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>> joyce applebee, the great historian commented on this setting that after the 1784 limitation on slavery had failed, jefferson quote backed away from attacking the institution as his power to do something about it decrease.
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the other benchmark that i would like to point out is the louisiana purchase. there was a great opening of the west, great opening of the empire of the liberty, or when we acquired a territory that was great debate in congress. should we have slavery there? and congress came very close to banning it and then passed prescription's that so outraged the slaveholders who were already there that they threatened secession. they threatened to call in napoleon back in. people said if you don't allow slavery on lands there, they will depreciate in value by 50%. as all this is going on, it was a fresh mama, congress still have the will to restrict slavery. jefferson sent a message saying slaves to be admitted to the territory. and then he went on in the creation of the legal system and bureaucracy that manage slavery
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in the new territory to the point where the historian robert macauley referred to him as the father of slavery in louisiana. so it was only 20 years later from the man who tried to stop the slavery from getting into the west to the man who helped to extend its reach into new territories. i don't much like counterfactual the bottom going to end with one anyway because i think this one really could have happened. there was an oral history that was recorded in the 1940s by a woman named -- who was hunting, trying to find information about sally hemming. and she went to find as many descendents of monticello slaves as she could. she recorded a number of interviews. in one of them a person said something that was very striking. she said -- now, he said.
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mr. jefferson used large sums of money they been given to them for the benefit of the negro. when i first read this it really did make any sense at all. i did know what he could possibly be talking about and about something that was made up by people who are angry about slavery and wanted to get back at mr. jefferson. identify that it was true. visiting philadelphia one time i was wandering with my family through society hill, and became the house with a plaque that said this was the townhouse where the great polish patriot of the american revolution had lived, and was open as the museum. so we went into. right at the front there's a brochure entitled -- and jefferson. i did know that much of her relationship at all but i opened it up and i found to my surprise that he had written a will in which he left the jefferson
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$20,000 to free as many slaves, monticello slaves that money would buy. and to give them land and to give them livestock into pay for the transportation and education, transportation especially to someplace where they could live undisturbed as free people. and it's interesting, when this bit of information came out in the smithsonian magazine an excerpt from the book, a number of people said to me that they had never heard of it. and i said i never heard of it either until i stumbled across this in philadelphia. and a couple people have thought about this. the parlor game when you hope your book is being made into a movie, who do want to start in it, people began to say i wonder whom he could free? people thought of john and priscilla hemings. they said well, maybe he could
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have freed some of his farmers, and then someone said, the faucets. he could've freed joe. you was a blacksmith. and ed was his cook and had a whole bunch of children. and it turned out any auction of jefferson's estate after the war, and after his death, joseph was in 13. jefferson left the rest of the family in slavery, and they're scattered to different masters. and joseph worked for 10 years in this forge trying to earn the money to buy back his own wife and all of his children and he managed -- one of his children escaped from slavery but he managed to get most of them back except peter, whose owner would never give him up. said joseph and edith had to
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leave charlottesville, and then they settled in ohio and it was only years later when peter was bought out of slavery by his own friends in charlottesville that he was able to join them. and i would like to conclude with this language. this is what he wrote, the interesting thing about this, he said jefferson drafted this will. because in 1795, he had finally gotten the payment that was coming to him for his service in the american revolution. he was a general of engineers under george washington and his many of you know, he designed the fortifications at west point. his payment was very long delayed and he finally got it in 1795 your in philadelphia he watches his good friend jefferson, and said would you
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write a will with me? and he may jefferson the executor. and after they drafted the formal, before they drafted a formal document, he had written something out in his own hand, and i would like to read this to you in conclusion. i bade mr. jefferson that in case i should die without will he should buy out of my money many negroes and free them. that remaining sons should be sufficient to give them education and provide for their means. that is to say, each should know beforehand the duty of a citizen in the free government, that he must defend his country against foreign as well as internal enemies, to have good and human hearts, sensible to the sufferings of others. each one must be married and have 100 acres of land with instruments, cattle for tillage and not to manage and govern as well as well as how to behave
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with neighbors, always with kindness and ready to help them. themselves frugal so their children get good education. i mean as to the heart and a duty to their country. and he had only one request to name the people expected to free. and gratitude to me to make themselves as happy as possible. it never happened. and i will stop there and i'll be happy to take any questions if anyone has them. [applause] >> it is, of course, a terrible thing that slavery was done making profit. but in the book you seem to be
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suggesting something much more nefarious, that he's consciously looking to engage in slave trading. when i saw that there was a little counterintuitive, because jeffersons not generally regarded as a good businessman. he died in debt, and the one exception is -- [inaudible] documented did indeed make a profit. one of the problems is no one has done the economics. we've got billy in the audience whom i'm hoping will be the first person who asks that. and it's amazing where the best financial data of almost any individual of the 18th century, but no one has done the basic work of adding and
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detracting and seeing how exactly how his finances were. and i wonder, in order to really make this case that he's benefiting from slave breeding, doesn't want me to do more than economic standing? would you not need to have some charts to do the paperwork? >> it would be certainly be better to have more data, but i think that the strongest evidence we have is from jefferson himself. not only did he urge his neighbor, neighbors family to invest in negroes because of the value, but he said twice later in life that the women to bring a child every two years are more importance to me than laboring and so, because what they bring is an addition to me. he said that twice later in his life.
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and i think it's actually perfectly clear that when the polish request came along and he was handed $20,000 to free as many slaves as that money would buy, he could have, he could have freed two films, three comes from his choice, carter set the price whatever he wanted to. he walked away from that money. i think for to respect one is half of that money was gone and effective slaves themselves, because jefferson would've had to extend it on purchasing land and livestock and equipment. but also, the other thing is these people for important to the monticello mission. but also it was the reproductive valley. he was really very -- saying twice later in his life that the women bring me assets. so he was not going to relinquish assets like this. parlor because you want importance of the i think he was quite deliberately putting up
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slave assets as a bulwark against the debts that would descend on his family when he died, and oddly enough when he had the kosciuszko money right in front of him and he refused it, he was almost at the same time giving slaves away to his grandson, thomas jefferson randolph, so he could be set up properly in his own household. so owning slaves was an excellent way to transfer wealth between generations. and as for jefferson's death, i think that that's been the problem with that is been greatly exaggerated. and i think -- i won't speak for them but i remember conversation he had and which we agree that jefferson was a financial genius. i read the financial records and the letters. he was constantly refinancing its debt. he was always able to find new sources of credit. billy found he was a pioneer in the payday loan, which is
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something that i did know. but i noticed he was always refinancing. and i said to him, billy, i don't see debt restrain him in anyway. billy said, no. and keep in mind he built monticello twice. before he went to france, he went to france, decided he fell in love with french architecture and he rebuilt it. when he got tired that he built another mansion outside of lynchburg. then he spent $30,000 on a meal in a canal at the bottom of monticello mountain. said that never really restrained him from anything that he wanted to do. one of the historians who studied, i think it was -- stephen, said if jefferson hadn't decided to make it rather reckless investment of $30,000 in an outcome he probably
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would've been able to ride out the financial storms of the early 19th century. and another analysis of the financial records show that jefferson, a slaves actually were very productive farmers. and that in one of the first decades of the american agricultural economy, jefferson lost very little money on his farming operation. and so, the slaves were really holding their phones when commodity prices were plunging, and so, i mean and jefferson just kept spending -- the nail in the coffin for him financially was when he had alone with his in-laws. nicholas was speculating in kentucky land acquisitions, and he needed someone to cosign a $20,000 note and he talked jefferson into it and then six months later he went bankrupt. that's when the letters from monticello grill begin to get
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gloomy. -- really begin to get gloomy. >> i want to follow up -- >> we have a circulating microphone. >> all right. well, i want to follow-up on the kosciuszko will. of course after reading jim lewis' review yesterday when she called to book a train wreck, i thought maybe more to use this -- elaborate a little on the. you explain jefferson was made executor, and however, where i'm confused is that with 18 months of kosciuszko's death this will was contested by three different parties, in europe, one within the united states at the time, when that surface three different subsequent wills that had been drawn up in europe, and so i don't quite understand, and
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in jefferson -- at this point he said this is going to really fall into a lot of litigation. he said i think it's going to go past my lifetime. he was right. and so he resigned as executor, and sure enough, this litigation continued. finally, wound up in supreme court. it was resolved in 1852 in favor of the polish descendents your this is 26 years after jefferson's death. so what i'm confused about is how did he ever have that money in front of him? the money was in the u.s. treasury in washington, and he never had access to it. and after that date it was tied up in the courts. so how could he have used this money to free slaves? and how did he have that option of no, i'm going to back off of this, i don't want to free my slaves. i'm really confused as to how he ever had access to those funds. >> the will end up in litigation because jefferson didn't act on
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it quickly enough. he had in his hand a letter from kosciuszko saying that whatever you may for here from europe, might intention for my american funds remains fixed, meaning that kosciuszko, that his intentions to have that money used by mr. jefferson to free mr. jefferson slaves remains fixed. now, if mr. thomas jefferson walked into the county courthouse carrying kosciuszko's will, caring and letter from kosciuszko business i want is acted upon, do you think the court is going to delay? well, only because jefferson didn't press it. he didn't want to press it. anything else? billy speakers access to money -- [inaudible] income were going to john barnes account on which jefferson help held a signatory authority, power of attorney. so $4000 at least went into that
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account and john barnes said why don't you use this money for your own purposes and it comes out of kosciuszko's money. city was using it like william schwartz money, collateral and is a very ingenious method of financial methods that makes today's time managers looks like pikers. he was very skillful's and that was one of the ways he got access to money. >> actually -- >> is not just kosciuszko and short but there's a list of people. that's what he was able to live with the debt. >> did you see the letter written after jefferson's death went randall tried to revise the will? he wrote to the war in europe was apparently controlling the funds. he said, can we please revise this because i'd like to get those funds? i just don't know if you've seen it. >> by the 1816 will vindicate the previous wills and that was a decision of the supreme court. so it was an uphill legal battle
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to try to get -- >> yes, because jefferson didn't cut the legal system off at the past by pressing the will when he had the chance spent really could be? because it was contested almost immediately by kosciuszko armstrong sank of course in the back of his mind, and so -- >> [inaudible] >> pardon? >> [inaudible] >> the european errors eventually won, yes, they did. >> i just got the book this morning, so i've only read the intro, but i was really interested in the passage that you quoted earlier about how jefferson had this plan in 1789 that he wanted to turn his own monticello slaves into good citizens. i've never seen a passage
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before. the letter to edward conway started on he wants to bring in german immigrants to be in ventured servants, and incur -- intermingle with the slaves. he said their children will be free. i don't interpret that as him kind of being racist saying slaves can become citizens but in ventured servants can. are you suggesting that he was imagining them to intermingling intermarriage and that he -- >> no. no. go ahead. spent the letter pretty clearly refers to the german children that he's talking about -- >> there's a follow-up -- >> i've read -- i know in 1798 short makes almost the same proposal and short explicitly calls for interracial marriage and interracial children. he embraced it spent totally different circumstances.
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>> it's the same type of proposal. he was talking about german immigrants. the same type of thing, but i mean in jefferson's letter, i mean, i've written about it. i'd be happy to show you the letters. in this letter, he's talking about the children, the germans. >> no. now, he's talking about the children's be dished i have a letter spent that's what he told thomas paine because years later when jefferson was engineering the expansion of slavery into vienna, thomas paine wrote to him and said now is the time to revise the plan you talked about in paris. since slaves into louisiana territory to sign contracts with planters who will take them for a year or two him and train them, and give their own lots of land and venue for them. and he specifically referred to reviving the plan that we discussed in paris. that's this plan. spent well, i do, i mean, this
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plan, talking about sending slaves from louisiana while the front still own it? this is 1789. >> no. spent the letter you footnote is in 1789 pick a candidate by the louisiana purchase spend what it meant was when jefferson was in paris and when he had discussed this plan with edward bankrupt company not owned discussed it with william short but he discussed it with thomas paine. because when the hour of decision came again about whether we would have slavery in louisiana, thomas paine reminded the president of what he had proposed in france, namely what is outlined in the bankrupt letter. to go, to bring slaves and free short amount of time, to teach them, -- proper modes of agriculture and then set them free. >> i -- >> it's very clear what jefferson is talking about. and i don't see jefferson encouraging -- >> it says right here i will settle them, the germans, each
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intermingled and set them on a footing of -- >> yes, a patchwork of farms is one thing. >> i have no doubt they will be good citizens. so it's the germans. >> we can argue this later. anyway. antecedents are mixed up. >> you've got a comparison with george washington washington of course freed his slaves on his death spoke actually after 10 years of trying. >> washington is a marvelous story she wrote about in your last book. >> right. >> [inaudible] it would be
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political suicide. and, in fact, jefferson recognized at the end of his life that it would not only be suicide, marvelous letter and 1819 of the missouri compromise which he talks about -- [inaudible]. for the first time he recognizes the great war in which hundreds of thousands might die, not necessarily in europe which he always believed, fighting between republicans and regimes, could well be in this new nation fighting between slavery and independeindepende nce. and jefferson does give his own reasons for not freeing his slaves. you're quite right. he never intended to faith and even if he hadn't been in debt. but he did argue that to do so would be civil war and that the only solution would be a scheme
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in which all slaves moved to the caribbean or back to africa. and, of course, you could argue that it's not justification but it's also a reason worth considering. i came at this very differently. i was a caribbean scholar working on -- these are some of the most your awful regimes anywhere. and i was very aware -- [inaudible] the moral issue of slavery. they never discussed it before or during the american revolution. in fact the first place is what discusses here in america, even -- being opposed to slavery itself was remarkable. it's only in the western only in
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the 18th century that you have an abolition movement. people actually questioning the morality of slavery. so to me, jefferson was remarkable in that he actually questioned the system and had enough empathy to realize that slaves freed would be so angry at the way they were treated that it might actually rebel. i don't know if you want swedish know, i mean, jefferson was wrong about the blacks because when they were freed, there was no general rebellion after 1895. there was no mass slaughter of former masters. jefferson throughout his life, the revolutionary war was, it was a bit of a shock to him because a number of slaves ran off and joined the british to get the freedom. and he never forgave him for that, and that overrode the
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loyalty that many more slaves adjourned to the american cause. it overrode the fact that, well first of i should mention, george washington integrated the american army in 1775 blogspot throughout the war in washington's army, and jefferson never once as governor offered freedom to any of his slaves who would fight for the american cause. for disloyalty of a relatively small number of slaves, that loomed large in jefferson's mind. and the loyalty of all the other blacks be completely discounted. and then he wrote this fantasy and notes in the state of virginia that black people could not have almost love this country because they had been held in slavery here. now, his own slaves, martin hemings, caesar and greg george, had risked their lives to save
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jefferson's life and property during the war. jefferson knew this for a well and yet he notes on the state of virginia, and he just, they didn't play into his calculations. anyway, i would bring up his change of heart but that's going a little too far. >> [inaudible] describing the whipping -- [inaudible] that was edited in 1963. how could you find that? >> well, it's because like everybody else, in the early 2000s, i was too reliant on the 1950s edition of the form book which contains a facsimile, photographic accidentally of the actual letter about the management of the plantation.
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and a lot of that everybody sides that randolph writes same doing very well and nobody is being whipped. and indicated that it says dot dot dot. for everybody sides the presidency, nobody was whipped. and then as the new additions of jefferson's papers have been coming out, i made it a habit to look at each volume and look at all the letters having to do with slavery to see what was newly emerged. i also began reading backwards in the series. and when i got to the volume that covers that year, 1801, i was just systematically read every letter, and they came to the letter and it had a line that i've never seen before but it was like this line had miraculously appeared. and i thought, well, that wasn't there. and i compared the two and ordered the original massachusetts historical society, and the original letter sent know what is being whipped except the small ones. which entirely reverses the meaning of the letter.
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and so this is what people were prepared to do to protect mr. jefferson's reputation. and so i mean, i've mentioned him anyway, to me that was a real turning point that the children were being whipped, that jefferson was informed of it and took no action to stop it. >> [inaudible] >> it doesn't seem quite fit that jefferson is building -- for his descendents. in his will he freeze three of the four most viable slaves of treachery by far. -- slaves of monticello so far.
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my calculation is that that one-tenth of the value when you compare the other 126 legs. what do you make of that gesture? >> sure. i'll just repeat the question because i don't know that it was picked up by the microphones. he asked the question, why did jefferson essentially free some of his most valuable slaves. >> well, two of the slaves he freed were his own children. as to why he freed the other three, i don't know. i don't know if he had made a prior promise to them. they were certainly very valuable servants to him. they were all related to them. they were all hemings.
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by honestly can't answer that question but i don't now he chose them. >> thank you for what you done to bring this new information i think that would. but i'm interested in the psychology of jefferson. and mr. o'shaughnessy was presenting to us what was our basic knowledge up to now, and that's a very, i think, a great philosopher, religious in his own way man, spiritual, in seeing slavery but in the big picture of history and how it might influence. and your work seems to abroad out a different psychological jefferson. that we are not very for me with. >> right. >> and do you see this split in?
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that he compartmentalize is to the extent what he can be this philosophical thinker and see slavery all the things mr. o'shaughnessy has shown us, the danger of freeing slaves? and that on the other hand, this other side of, the business side which i think as a surprise to me. i'm not a scholar or historian, but that is, this other part of jefferson that even he himself maybe was in denial about, and yet he was good at. >> well, i don't see him as compartmentalize. that was the formulation that joseph alice put forth, and i just don't buy it. i mean, it's based in large measure on things jefferson said about slavery. and many of these statements that he may, some of his most ringing anti-slavery statements we think were almost issued as
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press releases from the white house, or put on billboards, or put in newspapers. these were private responses that he wrote from roughly 7090 until his death. very progressives and abolitionists who came to them, people like william goals and kosciuszko and lafayette baking him to do something to end slavery. and he would put them off. he would say the time is not yet right. we hold the world by its heirs, or these people are too stupid, i need -- but all these excuses, i mean, they were privately written. and jefferson had a word. he called them his soft answers, that he wrote to people, to abolitionists were pestering him. he knew how to put people off. he was a master of correspondence. so many of these things were quoted were not meant for public consumption. they were just private letters. >> i just realize time is
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running out. jefferson is of course a convenient shorthand for talking about the problem of the existence of slavery in early america, that the rights of liberty was accompanied i the system in which it fits the population with slaves. the british naturally like to be morally superior during the revolutionary war. samuel johnson famously said in 1776, why is it that the first to yelp liberty are masters of slaves? for they themselves have slavery almost as large down in the british caribbean. it's the subject of perennial interest. i'm grateful for your talking about this. the main purpose of the discussions is indeed perhaps debate, and i thought we had a
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really good dialogue today. and thank you very much. >> thank you, andrew. thank you all for coming. >> is there a nonfiction author or book you would like to see featured on booktv? send us an e-mail at booktv@c-span.org. or tweet us at twitter.com/booktv. >> it's in the northeast part of afghanistan. they cannot be more remote. this valley is a cul-de-sac that goes nowhere. it's up near the himalayas, for getting up there, flying helicopters is hard. the only way and was on foot or helicopter. so trying to get their initially to plan the nation's was tough. what they were out there doing, they go after high-value target. this guy was a commander.
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it's a terrorist group essentially has some associated with al qaeda, has some sort of truce with the taliban but these guys are nasty character to there's a lot of foreign fighters, guys are really there to fight against, vilified for afghanistan or for their version of afghanistan. these guys are mercenaries. and what he was in the area was recruiting, resting people into fighting, and he was rumored to have surface to air missiles and the stockpiling conspicuous also credited with the fear of ambushes and about that caught the attention of some of the commanders. so they decided to go up there to get him and take care of this network because it was becoming, he was able to export.
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what they ran into was, not only were they fighting the geography because it was such a hard place to get to, they were also find some of the restrictions that are placed on -- i'm sure we've all seen the news, right quick cities and night raids are highly regulated. who controls the battle space is highly regulated. it takes a long time to commission plan. one of the things they were running into planning this mission was how to get there, what the helicopters could do, and what, when and where they would be allowed to go. essential to get back with was the idea they're going to fly to the valley, land i in the valle, unload the soldiers and then lie off. they initially wanted to fly to the top of the village and that broke down. they would repel out of helicopter and helicopters would fly off. because restriction, but because of what the pilots were comfortable doing, they ended up having to settle for this
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mission can which was to land in the valley and unload, which anyone who knows any kind of basic -- to fight uphill is never a good idea. you never want to do that. infantry 101. if you take the high ground, you wonder. so what the commanders had to pretty much rectify was where were they going to place the risk. that's sort of where the team was left on the morning of the mission, which is where the book starts. they get up in the morning and i know that they have to do this mission. it's spring in the mountains of afghanistan. the web as sort of pushed mission delays once or twice and they all have this sinking feeling, that i don't know if this is a good idea. and that feeling is one of the things that propels this book. and it propelled us because it's very rare you get soldiers that have universal bad feelings like that, and they can do to stand
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up and say hey, not only do we have this bad feeling but we said look, we don't really want to do this mission. that's sort of starts the book and it also starts them on this path that ultimately gets them in an ambush. >> and that's critical, what kevin just mention in the book, you don't usually get soldiers to speak out about the plan. there was a captain who basically new, just like other members knew that there were flaws in the plan. you don't fight uphill, you tried to have the element of surprise. so tactically, he knew it was unfair. so he took his concern to his commanders, and his commanders, it was really important to do this mission because high g. was a really bad guy. he financed his men by this
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intense smuggling operation but, in fact, what they later found out through the fbi and cia was that some of those hadn't even shown up in gun shops in arizona. again, go back to the valley. captain collins on the team new tactically that this plan was flawed. but even though they knew that it was flawed, knew that there was incredible danger, bringing a house under an helicopter into the bottom of the valley and into climbed mount to get to this compound that was surrounded by some of the, you know, these really trained, the soviets, you know, for like 10 years, they still went and they still went to carry out this
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mission. and i think kevin, you describe a little bit about what happens once they landed. >> so, they take off from a base on the border, jalalabad, and they fly into this valley. there some concern this point but there's some concern about the weather. there's a certain wonder they have you can get in and out before the cloud cover. so they have to workload -- quickly as well before they get stuck. but if you can imagine landing in a helicopter and, the plan was to land and get out, but it was so much rubble and eyes and the ground was so and even the helicopters almost couldn't land. they are guys jumping 10 feet out of the back of these chinook à la copters and lenny on these rubble fields. a couple of them landed in this river that was running right through the middle of their landing zone. and they get past that without any major injuries. that alone, 10 feet is about
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from a basketball court, imagine jumping out of that into big boulders. they look up and this, the mountains surround this valley are a lot higher than ever imagined. they were only looking at satellite images. i can only equate it to standing in midtown manhattan and looking up at the buildings and being surrounded on all sides by just sheer cliffs. they consolidate their guys and they start walking towards this village. we see village, i'm sure in your head you think, i don't know what you can see in your heads for an afghan village. depend on where you are in the country, sometimes they are little mud huts, but this village was literally cut into the walls almost and it was stone houses. these were like castles stacked on top of each other that were line all the way u up and around the end of surrounded almost, not 360 but 360 with stone houses.
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as they are walking up, it takes them a little while to find a path. they get to the base of the hill and the path pretty much is cut back and forth in a zigzag up the hill as they had the. dashing as they head up. you know that's bad, number one. there's only one way up. you know that you're in a cul-de-sac of the valley now and they know that you were there because heard the helicopters. major helicopters in this valley, it's not them. it's not their buddies. it's their bad guys, right? was a quiet as they're walking up. and all of a sudden they see three guys running up. running on the top of the valley and one of them has a gun. >> you can watch this and other programs on line at booktv.org. >> with just days left in 2012, many obligation of putting
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together their year end list of notable books. booktv will feature several of these list focusing on nonfiction selections. these times were included in the book reviews best nonfiction of 2012 list.